Another shift in the culinary tectonic plates underlying Sector La Marina in Guaynabo was felt recently inside Barrica. Once the first location for the gaucho wine beginnings of Bodegar, and later the appendage to the vastly expanded wine boutique now located a couple of paces down in the direction of Garden Hills, Barrica has become westernized in its beef selection.
Under the new ownership of José Montalvo—of Cantábrico fame— Barrica now features Grade A cornfed beef from New York ($28.95), rack of lamb ($28.95) and lamb chops ($30.95). Don't get us wrong; the new Barrica still features the tried-and-true formula of tapas and South American fare to match the bodega ambiance. Other traditional dishes, such as lamb tail and an assortment of risottos, are a huge hit with the restaurant's clientele.
An assortment of homemade empanadillas made with four cheeses— asiago, mozzarella, provolone and Roquefort—and ground beef ($10) were stellar; the croquetas ($10) were crunchy outside and moist in the middle. The veal ossobucco (braised veal shank) was cooked to such perfection that the meat peeled off the bone with the slightest pull of the fork. The veal dish was served with risotto parmesan cooked al dente— just hard enough.
In the move toward more westernized options, the new ownership has added a roster of California wines: Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon ($43), Pinot Noir ($43) Chardonnay ($43); Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon ($48); and Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon ($45) and Merlot ($45) are some of the new additions. Popular Argentine brands Foster Malbec ($48) and Gascón Malbec ($33) are also available.
We were pleasantly surprised with La Madrid Bonarda ($33), a vintage that lingers on the palate with the complexity of a good script and the many plot points therein—exquisite. Barrica is open from 11:30 a.m. until customers leave, Monday through Sunday.